Beloit College Class of 2018 Mindset List Is Out

The Mindset authors talk about the lists.

Want to learn a bit about the 21st Century students who are entering college right now and infer a bit about digital kids at other ages? Check out this year’s Beloit College Mindset list for the class of 2018. This yearly list helps adults — parents and educators — recognize just how much our cultural frames of reference differ from those of our digital-age children, even if they may be younger than college freshmen.

Started in 1998 by two faculty members at Beloit, the list was originally created as a way for faculty and staff at the college to learn more about how easy it is for adults talk about things that they take for granted but that their students don’t know.  The website includes links to past years’ lists.

Continue reading

Educate Family Members About Digital Scams With Snopes.com

snopes1

Visit Snopes.com.

A week does not go by without students and parents asking me about an Internet scam, a circulating chain mail, a digital rumor, or a wild web story. And on a fairly regular basis, someone — always a good reliable kid or a terrific and reliable parent — forwards a digital missive that initially seems somewhat innocuous, silly, or sarcastic but then unleashes a virus or malware. Sometimes for children the strange digital content causes social problems.

To learn more about the unusual stories that circulate on the web, I suggest that 21st Century parents introduce Snopes.com to family members as soon as each individual begins using online communication and digital devices. We all need to learn how to consult Snopes resources and navigate around the site for helpful information — the true and reliable info — when strange and unusual content beckons.       Continue reading

Word Clouds: Lots of Options for Homework and Projects

These days multiple word cloud options are available for students and teachers.

Created with Festisite

Created with Festisite

Designing with words is an easy way for learners to create illustrations with spelling or vocabulary words. Some word cloud sites can even evaluate short passages taken from reading material. While word designing is not, strictly speaking, an important 21st Century digital world skill, these websites encourage kids to organize information and create in clever and stylistic ways that were not easily accomplished before web 2.0 arrived on the scene.

Many people are familiar with Wordle – the original word cloud site — that is especially clean, easy-to-use, and without advertising. Yet, as with everything else in the digital world word cloud sites are increasing. Sites building off Wordle’s success offer various options for saving, sharing, copying, and embedding, but no one word cloud site offers everything. Most of the sites below allow users to format with colors, fonts, and typeface sizes.

Check out these sites.     Continue reading

Why Wikipedia? Parents Ask

“Why use Wikipedia?” adults often ask. What they are really asking is, “Should my kids use Wikipedia, and is it a real reference?” For adults who grew up in the age of multiple volumes of well-documented encyclopedic information — of course, you remember those well-used, bookmarked, or even dog-eared pages — it’s hard to wrap our minds around Wikipedia. It’s even harder to understand just how we should use it as a reference.

Twenty-first Century learners, however, consult Wikipedia all the time, and the number of users and the content is increasing. According to a 2006 review in School Library Journal, “The popular online encyclopedia, whose entries are written and edited by any user, may inspire trepidation, even fear, yet the behemoth is impossible to ignore.” So just who is writing for Wikipedia? A March 2010 MSNBC article Who Writes Wikipedia, describes a research project that aimed to develop profiles of writers who contribute content.

Question: So, how does any user — student or adult — cite Wikipedia?

Answer: Give credit just as it’s given for any other reference.

Continue reading

What in the World Is a Wiki?

This image was made with the wordfoto app.

This image was made with the Wordfoto app — a great way to create useable illustrations from a list of words..

wiki is an online document, viewed in a web browser, that allows a user or users to add, collect, and organize information on a topic. This site at the University of South Florida also features a good wiki explanation. Usually, but not always, people work collaboratively on a wiki, so it’s a terrific learning tool, and everyone in a group benefits from the knowledge and skills of everyone else. Wikis can be simple or extremely complex — beauty is less important than content. The word wiki comes from a Hawaiian word that means fast.

Recently I collaborated with a group of colleagues to make a DigiParenting wiki for our presentation at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). We set up this wiki up because our small group wanted a place where we could combine all of our resources and continue to do so on a regular basis — making our wiki a dynamic and ever-change location for materials that can help parents learn more about their digital-age children. Continue reading